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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Unions in Americas Moving Slowly Toward Gender Equality

PANAMA CITY – The social gaps affecting women due to a macho culture also exist within unions in the Americas, which have initiated a process of “self-reform” to speed up “the slow advance of gender equity” in those organizations, among other things.

“Women in the unions have advanced a bit, they’ve had mid-level positions and a few positions of power, but when they have a position of power they don’t necessarily exercise it. Men are still making the decisions,” the president of the Working Woman’s Committee within the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA-CSA), Eulogia Familia of the Dominican Republic, told EFE.

Female union leaders “still have to consolidate their leadership in power and that’s a part of what we’re working toward in the self-reform,” she said.

Self-reform is a process that “contributes to unions democratically adapting to the inclusion of women, young people and sectors that traditionally were not organized, like domestic workers and informal workers,” she explained.

What it’s all about is “breaking down that (cultural) barrier” of patriarchy and machismo, which “is difficult,” she admitted.

Although there have been “advances, in some organizations more than others, they’re not enough to satisfy even a quarter of the aspirations” that women have within workers’ organizations,” she said.

Familia is one of about 200 union leaders who participated in Panama City in the 2nd Women’s Conference of the CSA, an organization founded in 2008 that now includes 48 unions in 21 countries and represents 55 million workers.

The Women’s Conference is held every four years to come up with recommendations and resolutions to bring to the Confederation Congress, the fourth one of which will be held in April 2020, also in the Panamanian capital.

The aim of the Conference is to set forth positions “designed to improve the participation of women both within the firm, with their rights guaranteed, as well as in unions and society. We’re not only aspiring to have women move up in the union, but we also want the working woman to take her place in society,” Familia said.

Isabel Guzman, the head of the Union Convergence Confederation of Workers of Panama, told EFE that after “many difficulties” they had been able to establish a framework for gender quotas to guarantee female participation in the organization, but “much remains to be done.”

Meanwhile, CSA general secretary Rafael Freire, of Brazil, said that he is fully aware and convinced that “there’s no union democracy without the effective participation of women.”

He said that women had achieved “a very great victory” in the CSA and called on the Confederation to “greatly deepen the alliances of our women with feminist movements in the region to have a common struggle.”

“There’s not going to be any women’s fight in the Americas in which the women of the CSA are not in the forefront,” he said.


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